14 Legal Research Disciplines of a Successful Paralegal

Worked in an office but want to become a paralegal? Enjoy the law and helping others? With the right training program from Gwinnett College, and these 14 research disciplines, you will be well on your way to being a successful paralegal.

What are the 14 Research Disciplines?

Analysis of case information and being able to track down records is key for a paralegal to master. There are 14 types of legal research discussed in this article and they include:

#1 Historical Legal Research

Finding out the previous law in order to understand the reasons behind the existing law and the course of its development. The research of statues and decided cases, supplemented where possible with lawyers’ literature expounding the rules and occasionally reflecting on them.

#2 Doctrinal Legal Research

The research into legal rules, principles, concepts or doctrines. The analysis of case law, arranging, ordering and systematizing legal propositions and study of legal institutions through legal reasoning and rational deduction.

What are the 3 types of reasoning?

Deductive Reasoning – the process of reasoning from one or more statements to reach a logically certain conclusion.

Inductive Reasoning – reasoning in which the premises are viewed as supplying strong evidence for the truth of the conclusion.

Abductive Reasoning – a form of logical inference which goes from an observation to a theory which accounts for the observation, seeking to find the simplest and most likely explanation.

#3 Non-Doctrinal Research

Non-Doctrinal Research, also called Empirical research, relies on experience or observation, often without a system or theory. It is data-based research where conclusions are made that can be verified by observation or experiment. The legal assistant tries to investigate through empirical data how law and legal institutions affect human attitudes and what impact on society they create.

#4 Comparative Research

Used to study legislative texts, Comparative legal research is the study of the relationship between legal systems, their differences and similarities. This comparison produces results relating to the different legal cultures being analyzed.

#5 Induction Research

Moving from specific observations to broader generalizations and theories, reasoning by analogy. Inductive legal research begins with specific observations and measures, then patterns are detected to formulate some tentative hypotheses that can be explored. After the hypotheses are explored the legal assistant can come up with general conclusions or theories.

#6 Deduction Research

A kind of logical argument that applies deductive reasoning to arrive at a conclusion based on two or more propositions that are asserted or assume to be true. Deductive reasoning works from the more general to the more specific. A legal assistant or paralegal would start with a theory and then narrow it down into more specific hypotheses that can be tested. The next step in the research is to collect observations to address the hypotheses. This leads us to be able to test hypotheses with specific data and reach a confirmation or our original theory.

#7 Applied Research

Action research aimed at finding a solution for an immediate problem. Applied legal research accesses some part of the research communities’ accumulated theories, knowledge, methods, and techniques, for a specific, state-driven, business-driven or client-driven purpose. Applied legal research deals with solving practical problems and generally employs empirical methodologies.

#8 Fundamental Research

Generalization and the formulation of a theory in order to improved understanding or prediction of natural phenomena.

#9 Statistical Research

The collection and examination of statistics. The 6 Steps when planning and conducting statistical research include:

  • Ask a question
  • Decide what to measure and how
  • Choose a method of collecting data
  • Summarize the data
  • Analyze the data
  • Draw conclusions and interpret the results

#10 Normative Research

Gathered material is thoroughly examined and a common thread is ascertained which ultimately becomes the basic norm.

#11 Quantitative Research

The measurement of quantity or amount. To develop and employ mathematical models, theories and hypotheses pertaining to the phenomenon under inquiry. The systematic empirical investigation of observable phenomena from a statistical, mathematical or computational technique.

#12 Quantitative Research

Concerned with phenomenon relating to or involving quality or kind and relies on reason behind various aspects of behavior. The examination, analysis and interpretation of observations for the purpose of discovering underlying meanings and patterns of relationships.

#13 Case Law Analysis

The research and analysis of case law. Case law consists of rules and principles stated and acted upon by the Judges in giving decisions. Case law analysis is the studying of cases and drawing essential conclusions on how courts apply certain norms and how they interpret them.

#14 Oral Advocacy

Use of personal argument to accomplish things not available in a written brief.

These are the 14 types of legal research a paralegal or legal assistant should learn to help them become successful in their legal career.

Ready to put the research skills to the test in a career as a paralegal? Want to learn more about the Paralegal Studies Program at Gwinnett College?  With the right training from Gwinnett College you will be well on your way to becoming a successful paralegal.